Friday, January 24, 2014

The Presentation in the Temple

Life of Christ 9

  For decades, a bent and graying elderly man known as Simeon had virtually haunted the Temple precincts. He loved Jehovah with all his heart, and in turn he had been gifted with the constant presence of the Holy Spirit. What he wanted, more than anything else in the world, was to see the Messiah, 'the consolation of Israel' (Luke 2.25). It was that hope and expectation that kept him going year after year, and that gave his life its entire meaning and purpose.
          Eight days after the birth of Christ in the stable yard of the inn, His parents, as the custom was, circumcised him and officially gave Him the name Jesus. Almost five weeks later, Joseph and Mary traveled with their infant baby boy to Jerusalem for His presentation.
          Moses had instructed Israel that the first child, if male, was supposed to be dedicated to the Lord as a priest. Later, when God chose the tribe of Levi and the descendants of Aaron to fill these positions, the first male child was to be brought to the Temple and redeemed (bought back from God's use) with five shekels. At the same time, Mary was considered unclean as a result of her pregnancy and delivery. Thus, for the double purpose of cleansing her impurity and redeeming their first born son, they walked six miles to the Temple forty days after Jesus' birth in order to pay the redemption money and to give a sacrifice for Mary's cleansing.
          That morning the Holy Spirit led Simeon to the Temple, as He had countless times before, only this time to meet by divine appointment the Messiah he had awaited for decades. As Joseph and Mary walked in they were startled to find an elderly man practically grabbing the babe from Mary's arms. With tears of gratitude streaming down his cheeks, Simeon gently cradled the baby's head in his arms, as his heart and voice whispered praise to Jehovah that He had lived to see this day. Then, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and to the astonishment of His parents, Simeon pronounced a blessing over the life of that precious little baby boy.
          The Apostle John would later say, in discussing the life of Christ, that the world couldn’t contain the books that could be written about His life (John 21.25). About thirty of those books sit on the shelves in my office, and I haven't read close to a tithe of the books written about Jesus Christ. Yet Simeon managed to sum up the entire arc of Jesus' life, including both His first and second comings, in just a few short sentences, and Simeon did it before the baby boy could even walk or talk. Additionally, in so doing, Simeon predicted a life that was totally at odds with the accepted Jewish wisdom of the day regarding what the Messiah would do and be.
          If I haven't piqued your interest by this time you might as well go watch funny cat videos on YouTube. But I find here (Luke 2.21-38) a wonderful summation, predicted beforehand, of the life of Jesus Christ, and that is worth investigating, if you ask me. Next time we shall dive into it, and see just exactly what wonderful blessings Simeon saw as he cradled the infant child Jesus in his arms. 

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